An interview with Manawa Udy
the challenge for us is to see the value in the small seeds, to trust the process of planting a seed and reaping a harvest
How has LIFE changed your world/personal life/family?
I first came to LIFE in 2003 as a baby christian in my early 20's. LIFE was an alternate universe compared to what I had been used to. I grew up in Te Ao Maori, my whanau and friends, by beliefs, the way I view the world, have all been formed by my Maori upbringing. In many ways there were similarities, things like valuing people, looking after each other, honouring your elders, generosity etc. But I had also been crippled by a few abusive encounters, low self esteem, and a very shy demeanour, I was never able to break through the limitations that my own mindset had put on me.
Meeting Jesus was the start of breaking down those barriers and healing my heart, and LIFE was the environment God placed me in to see that come to pass. I have always had a passion for young people so very early on I got involved in youth, we used to do a bread-run into uni hostels each week, and lifegroups were the perfect place for me to learn the ways of Christianity, build relationships, and discover who I am in Christ. I then began serving in the youth team and helped establish our South centre in 2006, going on to lead the youth ministry there under the awesome guidance of Ps Craig and Nadia.
I spent 2 years at Life Leadership College and then came on staff at LIFE in the youth department for a season. Being involved in this way has given me the depth, experience and confidence I have needed to pursue the call that God has placed on my life. One of the gifts God has given me is the ability to gather people and mobilise teams, a gift I discovered and developed while serving at LIFE, and this is now one of my greatest assets and one of the unique values I bring to the two businesses I now run, and the multiple social enterprises and community agencies I support.
Recently, you have started back on team in a contract capacity to help tell the story of LIFE Community and what we are doing to bring help and hope to others …
Why do you personally feel encouraged to be a part of building LIFE?
Fundamentally I know that being planted in a good church is a non-negotiable, not because of rules but because of my own well-being and my personal pursuit toward Gods call on my life. I am also convinced, and extremely thankful, that LIFE is the church community that God has placed me in, and I have found belonging, lifelong friendships and a healthy amount of challenge by being planted here, this is my home.
Because of this I take personal responsibility to invest into my house, whether thats through finances, time, prayer, or my favourite - by using my God given gifts! Though youth ministry was my training ground, I began to hear God's whisper that the impact that we are having on our communities is where He wants me, and how He has gifted me.
In 2015 I started a business that provides strategic storytelling support to organisations making a social, cultural or environmental impact, I had found a way to bring together my love for and skill in documentary photography and my experience in youth and community development, to serve people and organisations who struggle to find ways to communicate the incredible impact they are making in peoples lives, especially in environments that value numbers over people.
Being able to bring this skillset and service to serve my home, LIFE... it's the perfect fit. It feels right, it feels empowering, it feels challenging, it feels intimidating, it feels rewarding... it feels right.
I know for you personally and in what you do with Social Enterprise and building communities in South Auckland, what has been your personal reflection or revelation on our biblical calling to be seed carriers/build something that lasts beyond our lifetime?
There's a whakatauki, a Maori proverb that says 'He kai kei aku ringa - There is food in my hands'. It encourages the fact that you already have in your hands, or within your reach, what you need to achieve your dreams, your calling, your purpose.
Over the years I have captured a revelation of this, that regardless of your circumstances, your environments, your experiences, whether your have much or only a little, what you need is already within you, God has already given it to you. For many of us what we have is just a seed, but a single seed can feed a nation.
I think the challenge for us is to see the value in the small seeds, to trust the process of planting a seed and reaping a harvest, to have patience and perseverance for the necessary seasons to pass, and to be courageous on the journey. Sometimes the dreams God gives us will not come to pass in our lifetime, they're dreams for our children and their children, and sometimes dreams come to pass without us even realising it, but dreams will only come to pass when we use what we have (our seeds), put them to use (plant them) and watch carefully for the opportunities it brings (our harvest).
Any final thoughts on what Legacy means to you and how what you bring makes a difference?
Legacy for me is not a question of 'should I give?', the question for me is 'what will I give?'.
Resolve quickly that Legacy, that LIFE, is fertile soil, that it is guaranteed by the grace of God to bring about a harvest. Then instead, set about prayerfully considering the seed that is in your hand, and what seed should rightfully go into building Gods' kingdom through LIFE. Ask for wisdom, ask for courage, ask for a vision for the future, and then give, plant your seed with confidence and hope.